1 - 11 Solomon Praises the LORD for the Temple
1 Then Solomon said,
“The LORD has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.
2 “I have built You a lofty house,
And a place for Your dwelling forever.”
3 Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. 4 He said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David and has fulfilled [it] with His hands, saying, 5 ‘Since the day that I brought My people from the land of Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes of Israel [in which] to build a house that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man for a leader over My people Israel; 6 but I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’ 7 Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 8 But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart. 9 Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who will be born to you, he shall build the house for My name.’ 10 Now the LORD has fulfilled His word which He spoke; for I have risen in the place of my father David and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 11 There I have set the ark in which is the covenant of the LORD, which He made with the sons of Israel.”
Solomon addresses the LORD (verses 1-2). First he reminds the LORD where he has said He would dwell, “in the thick cloud”. It indicates that God is inaccessible to people. He “dwells in unapproachable light” (1Tim 6:16). Thus He comes to Moses “in a thick cloud”, “the thick cloud where God [was]” (Exo 19:9; 20:21). It is the great privilege of the believer today to approach that God. This is made possible through Christ.
It is as if Solomon is surprised that he has built a house as a dwelling place (verse 2) for the God, Who has said “that He would dwell in the thick cloud”. Later, in verse 18, he adds that God cannot dwell in a man-made house (cf. Isa 66:1; Acts 7:48). Yet it is also true that the temple is “a lofty house” for the LORD and that “forever”. This will find its full fulfillment in the kingdom of peace.
Solomon is the mediator. He acts in this part as the king-priest: he is king and intercedes as a priest. This combination is the characteristic of the Messiah (Zec 6:13). Solomon, with his father David, is the only one who blessed the people as king (verse 3).
The first words Solomon speaks are “blessed be the LORD” (verse 4). Before he prays, he praises God for what He said with His mouth and also did with His hands. The building and completion of the temple was done by man’s hands, but Solomon attributes the entire building to the hands of “the LORD, the God of Israel”.
What we do and accomplish for the Lord ultimately comes from Him, and so all honor belongs to Him. Paulus and Barnabas realize that too. In the account of their missionary journey they report “all things that God had done with them” (Acts 14:27; 15:4; 1Cor 15:10).
In earlier days, when the people are in the wilderness, God did not choose a city to dwell in, nor did He choose a man whom He had made the leader over His people (verse 5). He has done that now (verse 6). He has chosen a city and He has chosen a man (Psa 78:68,70). The only important thing is the choice of God. That makes everything that people think up a lie, like the Bethel of Jeroboam (1Kgs 12:25-33).
The LORD has chosen Jerusalem, and there the LORD has his house. In this chapter the Name of the LORD is spoken about several times with reference to God’s house. There He lets His Name dwell. This reminds us of what the Lord Jesus says of the church: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Mt 18:20).
Solomon points to his father David as the man who had love in his heart for God’s house and who is its original planner (verse 7). What he was allowed to do himself is to continue working with what his father David has already prepared (verses 8-11).
Here we see an example of the saying of the Lord Jesus and what He associates with it: “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor” (Jn 4:37-38). One may start a work and another may finish it. One generation starts something, the other goes on with it. We build on the foundation that others have laid.
We also see here that Solomon remembers what Divine directions his father had and that he clings to them. He does not seek renewal and does not make arbitrary adjustments. He also does not seek his own honor by wanting to be original.
From some people we read that their hearts went out to the house of God, that they longed for this house that it should be there. We see this with Moses (Exo 15:13,17), David (1Chr 17:1) and Cyrus (Ezra 1:2-3). All of them are herein a picture of the Lord Jesus. In the New Testament the heart of every believer should go out to God’s house (1Cor 3:10b).
12 - 21 Question to Listen to His Prayer
12 Then he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. 13 Now Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. 14 He said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no god like You in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and [showing] lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart; 15 who has kept with Your servant David, my father, that which You have promised him; indeed You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day. 16 Now therefore, O LORD, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David, my father, that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way, to walk in My law as you have walked before Me.’ 17 Now therefore, O LORD, the God of Israel, let Your word be confirmed which You have spoken to Your servant David. 18 “But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built. 19 Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You; 20 that Your eye may be open toward this house day and night, toward the place of which You have said that [You would] put Your name there, to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. 21 Listen to the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel when they pray toward this place; hear from Your dwelling place, from heaven; hear and forgive.
Solomon prays before the altar (verse 12), on a bronze platform (verse 13). The platform is not intended to raise himself above the people, but so that all may see him kneel and hear him pray (cf. Neh 8:4-5). The measures of the platform are those of the old burnt offering altar in the tabernacle (Exo 27:1). A new and larger burnt offering altar has been made for the temple. Yet there is also a memory of the old, smaller burnt offering altar.
The altar of the burnt offering is the place of meeting between the holy God and a sinful people. The sacrifice on that altar is consumed and the people go free. Solomon’s intercession is founded on the sacrifice that is made. The service of intercession of the Lord Jesus now in heaven is based on His sacrifice, which He brought on earth to God through His work on the cross.
Solomon’s attitude is appropriate and respectful, in accordance with his prayer. He spreads “out his hands to heaven. He knows that there dwells the LORD. Later, in his prayer, he will point to praying toward the house (verses 26,29,34,38) as a location on earth. That is in accordance with God’s will. Faith then looks upwards.
Verses 14-21 are a long introduction to the prayer Solomon prays for the people. He presumes the existence of other gods (verse 14; cf. Exo 15:11), but no one can be compared to God (Deu 4:35,39; 1Cor 8:6). He speaks of God’s fulfillment of what He has spoken in the past (verse 15). This is the reason for him to ask whether God will continue to keep in the future to what He has proclaimed (verses 16-17).
When Solomon so appealed to God’s faithfulness in the past and expressed his confidence in God’s faithfulness for the future, he praises the immeasurable greatness of God (verse 18). God transcends everything. He is greater than all promises and than all places where one can live, both on earth and in the universe. God does not dwell in anything that man’s hands have made (Isa 66:1; 6:1; Acts 7:48; 17:24).
At the same time, the greatness of God is for him the invitation to ask that great God to pay attention to his “prayer” and to his “supplication” and to listen to his “cry” (verse 19). Solomon expresses himself increasingly stronger: praying, supplicating, crying. He desires intensely that God’s attention should be constantly focused on this house, because of His Name He has put there (verse 20).
He asks the LORD once again to listen to his prayer, but now he also involves Israel and asks the LORD to listen to their prayer (verse 21). Solomon calls heaven the house of God. He realizes that the house he built is only a shadow of this, because the help for the building of this house had to come from heaven.
Solomon speaks to the LORD in the awareness of his own smallness. He is no more than a servant who depends on His great Master in everything. In three successive verses, he speaks of himself as “Your servant” in each verse (verses 19,20,21). In the previous verses he always said this of his father David. We may certainly come to God as children, but we must never forget that we are servants. We may come with the boldness of a child, but also with the respect of a slave for his Lord.
22 - 23 First Prayer
22 “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes [and] takes an oath before Your altar in this house, 23 then hear from heaven and act and judge Your servants, punishing the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.
After the introduction to the prayer we hear in verses 22-39 what Solomon prays. It is a prayer consisting of seven parts or seven prayers. In these seven prayers we can make a subdivision. The first four prayers belong together and the last three.
The prayers one to four have to do with the relations of the people among themselves and the problem of sin. It concerns
1. the personal relationship between two members of God’s people (prayer 1),
2-3. the whole people (prayers 2 and 3) and
4. the individual Israelite, who personally cares about the general state of decay and with this in mind tests himself (prayer 4).
The prayers five to seven are more outwardly directed and more about the peoples around them. It concerns
5. the fate of the alien and the testimony which comes from the help he receives from the LORD (prayer 5),
6. the struggle of the people and the support of the LORD which they experience (prayer 6),
7. the people in exile because of their sins and their return to the land (prayer 7).
In these prayers, the confession of sin occupies a large place. We see that the prayers one through four and also the seventh prayer relate to sin. Much need in God’s church is caused by sin. It is also worth noting that the various prayers do not say: ‘If they ask for forgiveness’, but: ‘If they confess their sins, will You forgive’ (cf. 1Jn 1:9).
We can learn from the prayers and make an application for the present time, the time when the kingdom of God exists as a mystery. This kingdom includes all those who place themselves under the authority of Lord Jesus, Who is now the praying King-Priest with God and there says His prayers for our benefit. His prayers are also echoed in His church, for the church is first and foremost a house of prayer (1Tim 2:1; Acts 2:42; Isa 56:7; Mt 21:13).
One more practical remark. Reading, or rather: prayerful reading, of this prayer takes about five minutes. That is not long. The value and content are therefore not in the length. It is to be hoped that we will learn to pray in this way, so deeply, without the fuss of words. This is a public prayer. In the inner room we can pray as long as we want.
The first prayer (verses 22-23) is about the sin of one against another, a case in which is asked for an oath. If someone is suspected of sin or if it is certain that someone has sinned, but there is no evidence, then the other can demand that the suspect takes an oath. The accused must then declare on oath that he is innocent. By virtue of this oath the judge hands him over, as it were, to the LORD. He even curses himself if he is guilty (Num 5:11-28). That curse can strike him in a direct government of God. The LORD shall deal with the consequences of the guilty person. Where people cannot come to clarity, God must provide clarity.
This situation can also be found today among God’s people in the case of sin between two brothers. How difficult it can be to uncover the truth and make a correct judgment. The question is from what attitude the person in question deals with the sinning brother and how the church deals with it. It is important to pray that the Lord makes clear the true facts (Mt 18:15-20). The Lord, if the church asks Him unanimously for this, reveals where the matter is wrong and the church does not know.
24 - 25 Second Prayer
24 “If Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and they return [to You] and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this house, 25 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You have given to them and to their fathers.
The second prayer concerns the case where the people are overwhelmed by the enemy because of a sin of the people as a whole (Lev 26:17). If there is sin, the enemies come. God sends them to discipline His people and bring them to confession and return to Him (Jdg 2:14-16). Confession of sin can count on a listening God in heaven and on forgiveness of sin.
The consequence of sin is that the people are driven out of the land or at least do not receive the blessing of the land. If there is true repentance over sin, the people get back what they have lost through their sin. This also applies to us. When we’ve sinned, we’ve come into the power of the enemy. The spiritual blessings are not enjoyed then. When we confess our sin, we also regain the joy of salvation (cf. Psa 51:14a).
The faithful suffer the consequences of general infidelity. It will lead them to live in a spirit of prayer and confession. By doing so, they will remain in possession and enjoyment of the blessings. Separation from evil may count on the Lord’s blessing.
26 - 27 Third Prayer
26 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them; 27 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people for an inheritance.
The third plague are shut up heavens. The whole people are suffering from the same plague of drought. Unlike Egypt, which is humidified by the Nile and human effort, Israel depends on the rain of heaven (Deu 11:10-11). If the autumn rain fails, there is no harvest and famine is the result. Through the Word God makes clear “the good way in which they should walk”. He shows in His Word how His people can repent and thereby ensure the return of the blessing.
God teaches His people the right way by chastising them with drought when they deviate from Him. That is in the heart of Elijah when he prays “that it should not rain” (Jam 5:17; 1Kgs 17:1). God sometimes teaches us through bitter disappointments and pain. Then our roads are blocked with thorns, our hiding places are shut up, our wells are poisoned and all our pleasant things are destroyed. God teaches us the good by showing us evil. Then our soul will cry out: “I want to return!” (Hos 2:5-6).
28 - 31 Fourth Prayer
28 “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, if there is locust or grasshopper, if their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities, whatever plague or whatever sickness [there is], 29 whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own pain, and spreading his hands toward this house, 30 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men, 31 that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You have given to our fathers.
Various plagues are the reason for the fourth prayer. Although it does not say that these plagues come because of sins committed, these plagues are the result of sin. We can derive that from the word “forgive” in verse 30. The whole people suffer from these plagues, but each one can escape them personally if he prays and supplicates and acknowledges his own affliction and his own pain.
In the words “and render to each according to all his ways”, is asked for the discipline of God. This discipline is necessary to keep the believer on the path of faithfulness to the Lord or to bring him back there. In doing so, the Lord sees in the heart of the believer to what he is inclined or why he goes a certain way that makes discipline necessary. It is the love of the Lord who brings this discipline upon his own (Heb 12:5-11).
We see an application of these plagues in the spiritual state of the believers in Corinth. They partake lightly in the Lord’s Supper. They deal lightly with its spiritual meaning. So God must punish them. Paul says to them: “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep” (1Cor 11:30). This does not mean that all those affected by this discipline participate in that levity. It is quite possible that there are those who suffer because of what others do. We may suffer from the behavior of others or of ourselves. That robs us of our blessings.
God knows the hearts of every human being (verse 30b). “All things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb 4:13). Awareness of this should lead us to go in fear for God in the ways of the Lord (verse 31). Then we are preserved in the enjoyment of the blessings that have been given to us.
32 - 33 Fifth Prayer
32 “Also concerning the foreigner who is not from Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your great name’s sake and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray toward this house, 33 then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear You as [do] Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.
The reason for this prayer is not a particular sin. It is a prayer for the stranger who comes from a far country to God’s house to pray there. Here we see that the house of God is a house of prayer for all nations (Isa 56:7b). Already in the Old Testament it is indicated that God’s Name is made great not only by Israel, but also by the nations (Mal 1:11). An example is the queen of Sheba (1Kgs 10:1-5), although it does not say that she came to pray.
The church is also a house of prayer and a refuge for the foreigner, the alien, that is to say for anyone who does not belong to God’s people. If someone comes to seek God, he must be at the church, for that is the “pillar and support of the truth” (1Tim 3:15). The church is now there for anyone who is still outside the church, to be included by conversion.
An example of this is the eunuch who came to Jerusalem to seek God (Acts 8:26-40). He returns home unsatisfied, for the temple is no longer God’s house. God, however, meets him. He fulfills his desire by showing him that there is a new house of God.
34 - 35 Sixth Prayer
34 “When Your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way You shall send them, and they pray to You toward this city which You have chosen and the house which I have built for Your name, 35 then hear from heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
This prayer does not happen because of a sin either. It is about dependence on God when His people, in obedience to Him, fight against their enemies. Here the people meet the enemy in a battle of faith by command of the LORD. It is a battle of which it can be said: “The battle is not yours but God’s” (2Chr 20:15). This is not about sins, but about a people who are in their right. Yet prayer is needed to get this right against the enemy.
That also applies to us. God’s Word calls us to fight “the good fight of faith” (1Tim 6:12; 2Tim 4:7). Before we fight, we must pray, and while we fight, we must pray. Then the Lord will maintain our cause, that is to say, He will make us stand firm in our battle for the truth of His Word. If we fight that battle with gentleness, opponents of the truth can be won for the truth (2Tim 2:25-26).
36 - 39 Seventh Prayer
36 “When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near, 37 if they take thought in the land where they are taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have committed iniquity and have acted wickedly’; 38 if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been taken captive, and pray toward their land which You have given to their fathers and the city which You have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for Your name, 39 then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You.
This prayer finds its cause again in sin. It is not about a specific sin, but about sin in general. Yet there is sin present that arouses God’s anger. Sin is found in every human being, because “there is no man who does not sin” (verse 36; cf. Ecc 7:20). This is not a cheap remark from Solomon, as cheap as it is sometimes said: ‘We are all sinners.’ What he means by this is that it is not unthinkable that what he prays now will happen. This expresses knowledge of the human heart. It is important that we know our own heart.
Here Solomon observes that man has a sinful heart, which is also expressed in practice. Solomon foresees a sinful practice for all who are so great that God must surrender them in His wrath to the enemy who takes them away from the land of promise. This prayer turns out to be prophetic (cf. Deu 31:20,29) and in all seriousness it has become reality. The people are led into exile (2Kgs 17:6-23; 2Chr 36:17-21).
However, Solomon also assumes a repentance of them among the nations to which they are scattered. They reap what they sow, but God can bring a reversal for the better and restore. He does so when they repent with all their heart and with all their soul. The proof of this will be that they “pray toward their land” and toward God’s city and house. That prayer shows that their hearts go out to the same things God’s hearts go out to.
This work in their hearts takes place on the basis of the intercession of the Lord Jesus and God-fearing people. Daniel has prayed and also Ezra and Nehemiah. They have confessed guilt (Dan 9:3-5,20; Ezra 9:1-6; Neh 1:1-7). Then, by God’s standards, justice is provided. He acts righteously when there is confession of sin.
We see this also in the history of the Christian church, for example in the Reformation and the Revival. These revivals, like so many other revivals, are based on the intercession of the Lord Jesus and God-fearing people. That’s how it still works today.
40 - 42 Solomon Asks for His Prayer to Be Answered
40 “Now, O my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer [offered] in this place. 41 “Now therefore arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might; let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation and let Your godly ones rejoice in what is good. 42 “O LORD God, do not turn away the face of Your anointed; remember [Your] lovingkindness to Your servant David.”
The general thought of all seven prayers is that they are all done in or to the house of God. It is “the prayer [offered] in this place” (verse 40). The answer of God in the next chapter is connects to this (2Chr 7:15-16).
Solomon concludes his prayer (verses 41-42). He does so with a few words of David (Psa 132:8-10). Earlier the word “arise” (verse 41) is spoken to the ark of the covenant when the people of Israel began their journey through the wilderness (Num 10:35). Later David speaks these words when bringing up the ark from Kiriath-jearim to Zion (Psa 132:8). Here Solomon speaks these words when the ark gets its final resting place in the temple on Mount Moria.
The fact that the ark has been given its resting place is reason to speak about the priests and their garments. The priestly garments are “salvation”. It indicates that the Lord Jesus has taken His place in the heavenly sanctuary. The believers as priests may now enter into the consciousness of full security of salvation. That salvation is not based on anything in themselves, but is entirely the result of God’s acceptance of Christ and His work. We, as ‘godly ones’, as beneficiaries, may “rejoice in what is good”. It indicates complete satisfaction as a result of all that God has given us in Christ.
Solomon mentions the plea (verse 42). He pleads on the ground of Whom the Anointed, that is Christ, is before God, for the people and the Anointed belong together. If the Anointed is heard, then the people are accepted. In ourselves there is no righteousness. Our righteousness can only be found in the Anointed.